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Because there is no overarching organization which controls what words are officially accepted into the English language and how they should be spelled, there is quite a bit of variety between native English-speaking countries. I have already used two words that are spelled differently depending on which country you find them in. Do you know which ones they are?

When you write, you should attempt to be as consistent as possible. Pick which variant of English you prefer to write in and consistently try to use the spellings that country uses by utilizing spell checkers in Microsoft Word or your smartphone.

There are some simple rules of thumb you can use to try to keep your spelling consistently British or American:


1. It’s –or in American English (like in Spanish) and –our in British English:

favor / favour


color / colour


neighbor / neighbour


2. American English tends to be more regular than British English. Take a look at these different past participles:

spelled / spelt


gotten / got (“Got” in AmE follows the same pattern as forget, forgot, forgotten)


burned / burnt


3. It’s –se or –sation in British English and –ze or –zation in American English


realize / realise


civilized / civilised


utilize / utilise (utilizing / utilizing)


organization / organisation


4. In words that end in –er in American English, they are spelled –re in British English


center / centre


theater / theatre


meter / metre


 Tim Brust

Head of Studies

inlingua Ciudad Real